Solar panels on the roof of a house in Ireland

Solar Panels Ireland 101

This article is an introduction to solar panels in Ireland. To keep things straight-forward, I won’t go into every last detail. But we’ll cover the all key points.

By the end of this guide, you’ll be able to weight up the pros and cons of solar panels. Plus, if you decide to go solar, you’ll have the information to make a well-informed purchase.

What Are Solar Panels?

A solar panel is a device that collects energy from daylight. This energy can be in the form of heat or electricity:

  • Panels that collect heat are called thermal
  • Panels that collect electricity are called photovoltaic or PV

Solar Thermal or Solar PV: Which Is Better?

Solar PV is better in 99% of cases.

The reason for this is that electricity is a more useful than heat. Okay, maybe not if you’re freezing… but hear me out! It’s easy to turn electricity into heat. But not so easy to turn heat into electricity! In other words, electricity is a more versatile form of energy.

Electricity’s versatility (say that 10 times fast) boosts savings on your energy bills. And solar PV panels also happen to be more reliable than thermal panels. Bottom line: You will save more money with PV than thermal.

What about the 1% of cases where solar thermal is better?: Well, the compactness of solar thermal can make it viable on small roofs where solar PV just wouldn’t fit.

Contrast between thermal solar and PV solar panels in Ireland
Size comparison: solar PV (left) versus solar thermal (right) | CC-BY EnergyD

How Much Can I Save With Solar Panels in Ireland?

The higher your bills, the more you can save with solar. This is because potential savings are a percentage of your electricity bill. Here’s how much solar can cut your electricity bills (approx):

  • 35% with solar alone
  • 50% with solar and a power diverter
  • 70% with solar, a power diverter, and a battery

So if your electricity bills are €1,300 per year then annual savings could be between €455 and €910.

Can I Sell Electricity to the Grid in Ireland?

Yes, you can sell surplus solar electricity to the grid in Ireland. Electricity suppliers will make offers for your electricity, and you can choose the highest bidder.

Electric power lines
Export payments for surplus solar electricity will soon be coming to Ireland

Don’t expect solar export payments to make you a fortune. The main financial benefit of solar panels will continue to be powering your own home. Export payments are the cherry on top.

How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Ireland

Solar panels cost anywhere from €5,000 to €15,000. Why such a wide range? The main reason is system size: 25 panels will cost more than 5. Premium prices also get you high-end products and strong warranties.

But the more expensive quote is not always better! Some solar installers are simply much better value than others. So get multiple quotes. EnergyD makes it easy for you to get competing quotes from quality solar installers. Enter your Eircode below to get started:

Is there a Grant for Solar Panels?

Yes, you can get a grant up to €2,400 for solar panels in Ireland. Homeowners, farmers, small businesses, and non-profits all qualify. To get the maximum grant amount, you’ll need to install at least 4 kW of panels – a medium-size home system.

4kW (or close) or solar panels on the roof of a house.  Just enough to qualify for the maximum SEAI grant of €2,400 for solar panels in Ireland
Assuming the solar panels are 400 Watts each, this system would be 4kW in total.

How Many Solar Panels Should I Get?

Most Irish households should aim for 6 kW of solar panels or more. There are several reasons for this. First, large solar panels systems give you the best value per kilowatt. Second, you will soon be able to export surplus electricity to the grid. Third, large solar panel systems are future-ready for electric cars and heat pumps.

What’s A Good Solar Panel Brand?

Nowadays, there are dozens of reliable solar panel brands available in Ireland. Most have their manufacturing in Asia. Here are some notable options to look out for:

  • Panasonic
  • Hyundai
  • Longi
  • JA
  • Jinko
  • Maxeon
  • REC
  • Q-cells

If you’d prefer a reliable European-made solar panel, then consider:

  • Solitek
  • Meyer Burger
Meyer Burger solar panel from Germany
High quality (and pricey) Meyer Burger solar panels are made in Europe

Regardless of the brand, you should look for long product warranties. Many models of panel have a 25-year performance warranty, but only a 7 to 10-year product warranty. So double-check the small print.

Get a High-Quality Solar Inverter

Inverters take raw electricity from solar panels and refine it for use in your home.

Solar panels themselves rarely give trouble (even entry-level ones), but poor-quality inverters are prone to failure. So don’t skimp on the inverter, even if it means reducing your panel budget.

Suggested brands: Fronius and Enphase

Solar inverter from Fronius (known for reliability)
Fronius inverters are known for longevity

Don’t Get “Power Optimisers”

Power optimisers are a gimmick. Real-world tests show they barely increase electricity generation, if at all… even when your solar panels get shade. Worse still, power “optimisers” add unnecessary points of failure.

The only time when it makes sense to get power optimisers is when you’re using a SolarEdge inverter system. In this case, power optimisers are required for the inverter to work.

Are Solar Batteries Worth it?

As of 2022, solar batteries don’t make financial sense in Ireland. With battery grants gone, the costs (€3,000+) are no longer worth the savings. Meanwhile, export payments make it convenient to sell your surplus electricity, so storing power isn’t so necessary any more.

Solax Triple Power Battery for storing surplus solar energy, these are a common model in Ireland
The financial return on batteries is underwhelming

Leaving finances aside, blackout protection is an appealing feature that requires a battery. Having a battery won’t automatically protect you from power outages, but it is a key part of every blackout protection system. Blackout protection generally adds around €1,500 on top of the battery cost.

Get a Power Diverter for Hot Water

A power diverter sends surplus solar energy to your immersion heater. With enough solar panels, the result will be abundant hot water from March to October in Irish conditions.

If you have solar panes and a hot water tank, then you should almost certainly be getting a power diverter. Prices are affordable (~€500), and savings are high. MyEnergi Eddi is the leading model recommended by EnergyD.

MyEnergi Eddi power diverter for hot water from solar panels
A power diverter can provide abundant hot water from March to October

Get Multiple Quotes for Solar Panels

Value for money varies dramatically between solar installers. Example: I’ve seen cases where a superior solar installer charges thousands of Euro less than a competitor with an inferior offering. So shop around for quality and price.

To make finding the best quotes easy, EnergyD has a network of trusted solar installers around Ireland. Customers often save thousands of Euro, and get better quality solar installations by getting quotes with EnergyD.

Do You Need Planning Permission for Solar Panels in Ireland

Don’t Sign a Solar Panel Contract on the Spot

Like any industry, Ireland has some great solar installers and some not-so-great ones. Pressure sales tactics are the hallmark of the worst installers. My advice is to never sign a contract until you had a few days to read over it and reflect.

If in doubt, get a competing quote. Or send a copy of your quote to EnergyD, and we’ll give share our feedback.